NJ Governor Signs Medical Cannabis Telehealth Bill

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) recently signed legislation allowing healthcare practitioners to recommend medical cannabis via telemedicine or telehealth sessions.

On Friday, June 25, Governor Murphy signed A-1635/S-619, permitting telehealth medical cannabis recommendations as long as they are consistent with standards of care for in-person assessment and treatment.

Following initial authorization, the new law allows practitioners to decide whether to continue authorizing medical cannabis use via telehealth or require an in-person visit.

Governor Murphy rejected a previous version of the legislation in April and sent it back to the Legislature, stating that it was too restrictive for patients.

The Senate amended S-619 on June 3, pursuant to the Governor’s recommendations.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Declan O’Scanlon says that digital authorization will allow qualified homebound medical cannabis patients to mitigate their suffering.

“Telemedicine is the healthcare of the future, and the pandemic demonstrated its value,” says Senator O’Scanlon. “Technology that has significantly changed the medical industry can help improve the everyday health and wellness of New Jersey residents who rely on medical cannabis to alleviate pain and treat medical conditions.”

Senator O’Scanlon says that terminally-ill, developmentally-disabled, and certified homebound and hospice care patients, as well as those confined to long-term care facilities, could benefit from easier prescription access.

In a joint statement, Assemblywoman co-sponsors Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington) and Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) say many medical cannabis patients live with conditions that prevent them from making regular doctor’s office visits.

“The pain relief, muscle relaxation, nausea prevention, and anxiety reduction of medical marijuana are too important to the people suffering from severe medical conditions to be hindered by in-person doctor visitation requirements,” reads the statement. “This law will utilize today’s technology to help provide easier access to this beneficial medication on behalf of the people who need it the most.”

With Governor Murphy’s signature in place, the new law went into effect immediately.